unCommonplace Thoughts, two

A Commonplace book is a form or collecting, or journaling, about which I learned in Seventeenth Century Literature more than three decades ago. I’m sure that my understanding of them is foggy.

But this blog is, for me, a bit of a Commonplace book. It is a place to capture notes and notions, things noticed in the everyday that I suspect might mean more than I yet know. In my experience, as I collect ideas and “think out loud” through the written word, I tend to learn the most uncommon things from the most common observations.


And the truth is, I don’t really know which observations will lead to anything worthwhile. So the writing of the blog is a bit of an adventure, following trails that very well might end up nowhere, keeping things that might not be all that great in the end.

Tonight I am awake late, waiting for an email from FedEx. I need a response to my inquiry regarding a certain printing project for my son’s fundraiser. This is not at all how I intended to spend my sabbath evening a few days before Christmas. None of this evening turned out quite as I’d hoped. My son and I took a very unfruitful trip away from the rest of the family, missing my husband’s homemade soup, in order to (unsuccessfully) print a homemade coloring book at a local office shop. We returned home empty-handed.

So after watching A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, my teen daughters headed off to their rooms. (I can still hear my eighteen-year-old on the phone, laughing, talking long into the night.) My son and I sat down to figure out this project, and he has since headed off to bed whilst I wait.

The tree is bright beside me, and the windows are dark that reflect it. My daughter’s laughter carries through the closed door and I can hear our basement tenant in the laundry room, preparing for her trip home tomorrow. Stockings, wrapped presents, a few stacks of books — these remind me of my truer self. The one who would have spent the evening reading quietly, sipping tea, playing board games. The one who meant to bake cookies for the neighbors today. The one who craves beauty and meaning and depth like some people crave adrenaline. I would lean into the hope that once we make it to Christmas morning, things will slow and settle and become what I long for them to be. But that would be fruitless too.

I am learning, at a half-a-century-old, to take a day as it is and let it be part of the glory. It will not do to waste this day on hoping tomorrow will be different. I have to make the most of this day with all its hustle, bustle, and bust. I think I do this as a person, a writer, an artist, and a craftsman. I find the things that are common, things easily passed over or thrown out for the new and shiny, and I help these simple things find new light. Making beauty from ashes and any old thing I can find is part of my vision for life — like my mom’s Appalachian rainy-day collection and my dad’s Minnesotan German carefulness, I am one to resist the casting aside of things that might yet be of use. Or as Rilke would write, Things.

So the hour becomes midnight and this busy, unrestful day slides into the next while the washing machine still churns, my daughter still laughs and chats, my inbox remains empty. But I’m grateful for this Day. I’m glad I got to live it, sad it’s gone, hopeful it and my memories will prove useful.

I slide this entry in like a feather in a Commonplace Book, and mark it with a piece of string. Perhaps no one else will think it’s worth saving. But that’s the point of one of these books: keep the collection. Keep the days. Keep at it with a curious and willing mind. Nothing is wasted.

When I create a floral design, there are often buds that fall, stems that break, little blooms whose stature is too small for the design. I save every one. I gather them all in cups and vases and bowls. The leaves I pile as yet green and potent. And these become the little details, or the gifts given unexpected, or yet the lingering reminders above my sink that I lived a day and made a Thing of beauty.

Today, this blog entry is my little bud above the sink.

Published by susienelson1

I am, among other things, an author, lover of literature, floral design artist and small business owner, and a profit-free doTERRA oils advocate on behalf of charitable non-profits. I seek to live creatively, simply, and with deep love as my husband and I raise three amazing kids and lead a faith community in Salt Lake City, Utah called K2 The Church.

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